Braxton Jones

ESPN names Bears LT Braxton Jones a 2023 NFL Draft winner

The NFL Draft is a wonderful three-day event that welcomes the next generation of stars to the league, but it’s also an anxious time for veterans whose jobs can be taken by a highly-rated rookie.

For Chicago Bears left tackle Braxton Jones, the threat of a first-round offensive lineman taking his job was very real. Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr. profiled as a prototype NFL left tackle. Georgia’s Broderick Jones’ upside at the position may have been the highest. Had either of them ended up in Chicago, the post-draft conversation would center around whether Jones should move from left tackle to right tackle in 2023 (or some point down the road.)

Instead, the Bears selected Darnell Wright, who almost universally is viewed as a long-term right tackle in the NFL. Hence, Braxton Jones’ job is safe.

It’s so safe that ESPN named him one of the 2023 NFL Draft’s biggest winners.

“The Bears are expected to keep Wright on (the right) side, which would give Jones another year to prove himself as a left tackle,” ESPN’s Bill Barnwell wrote. “Given the financial benefits of sticking on that side, landing in Chicago and staving off the competition could be extremely lucrative for him.”

The Chicago Bears revamped their offensive line this offseason. The signing of Nate Davis to play right guard reshuffled the interior, with Cody Whitehair moving to center and Teven Jenkins moving to the left side. Wright will settle in as the starter at right tackle, effectively resulting in four “new” starters (including position changes) in 2023.

That’s great news for QB Justin Fields, who was under constant duress throughout the 2022 season.

One player who doesn’t deserve blame for that duress is Braxton Jones, who’s earned the right to stay on the left side in 2023.

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